The results of the largest prospective study of its kind showed that in the early days and weeks after experiencing trauma, individuals experiencing potentially dangerous situations had less activity in the hippocampus – a brain structure responsible for forming memories of threatening situations. Important for—and who are safe—develop more severe posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
This association between reduced hippocampal activity and risk of PTSD was particularly strong in individuals who had more involuntary defensive responses to startle.
This research published in jenurosky, suggesting that individuals with more defensive responses to potentially threatening events may have a harder time learning whether an event is dangerous or safe. They are also more likely to experience severe forms of PTSD, which include symptoms such as always being alert to danger, drinking too much alcohol or driving too fast, trouble sleeping and concentrating, irritability, being angry and bad. Symptoms like dreaming
Senior author Vishnu Murthy, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, said: “These findings help identify specific brain responses associated with vulnerability to develop PTSD and identify potential treatments focused on memory processes to prevent or treat PTSD for these individuals. are important to.” Neuroscience at Temple University.
The research is part of the National Advance Understanding of Recovery after Trauma (AURORA) study, a multi-institution project funded by partnerships with the National Institutes of Health, non-profit funding organizations such as One Mind, and leading tech companies. The organizing principal investigator is Samuel McLean, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry and emergency medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and director of the UNC Institute for Trauma Recovery.
AURORA allows researchers to leverage data from patient participants who enter emergency departments at hospitals across the country after experiencing trauma, such as car accidents or other serious events. The ultimate goal of AURORA is to encourage the development and testing of preventive and treatment interventions for individuals who have experienced traumatic events.
AURORA scientists have known that only a subset of trauma survivors develop PTSD, and that PTSD is associated with increased sensitivity to threats and a decreased ability to engage the neural structures that retrieve emotional memories. Is. Yet how these two processes interact to increase the risk of developing PTSD is unclear. To better understand these processes, Murthy and his colleagues characterized individuals’ brain and behavioral responses two weeks after trauma.
Using brain-imaging techniques coupled with laboratory and survey-based tests for trauma, researchers found that individuals with less activity in their hippocampus and the greatest defensive response to startle events after trauma had the most severe symptoms. .
“In these individuals, more defensive responses to threats may bias them against learning information about what is happening so that they know what is safe and what is dangerous,” said the study’s lead researcher and at Temple. said graduate student Busra Tanriverdi. “These findings highlight an important PTSD biomarker that focuses on how people form and recover memories after trauma.”
“These latest findings add to our list of aurora discoveries that are helping us understand the differences between individuals who develop posttraumatic stress disorder and those who do not,” said McLean, an author on the paper. “Studies focusing on the early consequences of trauma are important because we need a better understanding of how PTSD develops so that we can prevent PTSD and best treat PTSD.”
ONE President Brandon Staglin said, “Since beginning our financial support for the Aurora study in 2016, we have been committed to helping Aurora investigators make important discoveries and bridge gaps in mental health research funding and patient support. Firm in commitment.” Mind.